The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 21

needn't be afraid of me. I'll help you if you've been
on the square. If you haven't, you still needn't fear me, for I won't
peach on you. What is it? Tell me."

The youth was on the point of unburdening his soul to this stranger
with the kindly voice and the honest eyes; but a sudden fear stayed his
tongue. If he told all it would be necessary to reveal certain details
that he could not bring himself to reveal to anyone, and so he commenced
with his introduction to the wayfarers in the deserted hay barn. Briefly
he told of the attack upon him, of his shooting of Dopey Charlie, of the
flight and pursuit. "And now," he said in conclusion, "that you know I'm
a murderer I suppose you won't have any more to do with me, unless you
turn me over to the authorities to hang." There was almost a sob in his
voice, so real was his terror.

The man threw an arm across his companion's shoulder. "Don't worry,
kid," he said. "You're not a murderer even if you did kill Dopey
Charlie, which I hope you did. You're a benefactor of the human race.
I have known Charles for years. He should have been killed long since.
Furthermore, as you shot in self defence no jury would convict you.
I fear, however, that you didn't kill him. You say you could hear his
screams as long as you were within earshot of the barn--dead men don't
scream, you know."

"How did you know my name?" asked the youth.

"I don't," replied the man.

"But you called me 'Kid' and that's my name--I'm The Oskaloosa Kid."

The man was glad that the darkness hid his smile of amusement. He knew
The Oskaloosa Kid well, and he knew him as an ex-pug with a pock marked
face, a bullet head, and a tin ear. The flash of lightning had revealed,
upon the contrary, a slender boy with smooth skin, an oval face, and
large dark eyes.

"Ah," he said, "so you are The Oskaloosa Kid! I am delighted, sir,
to make your acquaintance. Permit me to introduce myself: my name is
Bridge. If James were here I should ask him to mix one of his famous
cocktails that we might drink to our mutual happiness and the longevity
of our friendship."

"I am glad to know you, Mr. Bridge," said the youth. "Oh, I can't tell
you how glad I am to know you. I was so lonely and so afraid," and he
pressed closer to the older man whose arm still

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